Open playoff between Langer, Wiebe halted by darkness
SOUTHPORT, England – Darkness won the Senior Open Championship. At least for now.
Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe will return at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning to see who wins this year’s Senior Open at Royal Birkdale after they ran out of light. Two playoff holes -- one in almost complete darkness -- failed to settle this year’s winner after the pair had tied on 9-under totals of 271.
Wiebe left a 10-foot birdie putt short on the 72nd hole that would have won him the title. Langer stood on the 18th with a two-shot lead and seemed to have both hands on the trophy. The normally implacable German then did the unexpected. He double-bogeyed the hole after bunkering his approach and failed to get out of the sand.
He hit the top of the bunker and then had to splash out again. He had an 8-foot bogey putt to win but left the putt hanging on the front edge.
“I gave it away,” Langer said. “I could bogey the last hole and win the championship, and probably chose the wrong club for my second shot. I should have maybe played it short to take the bunkers out of play.
“I was a little unlucky that the ball got in a bunker where it was pretty deep. I thought I hit a decent shot but it came out low. I usually play a little smarter. I was pleased with the two pars I made in the playoff and still have another chance tomorrow.”
The pair returned to the 18th hole and halved it with pars. With light fading fast, a discussion ensued about whether to play on. They agreed to return to the 18th tee to try to decide the winner.
Wiebe hit two good shots down the second extra hole. He didn’t see either of them after they left the clubface. Both players parred the two extra holes and by that time it was 9:42 p.m. local time. No further play was possible, so the fate of this year’s British Senior Open hangs in the balance.
“Playing in the dark is a new one for me,” Wiebe said. “I was hoping one of us would bogey or something so we could move on.
“I think it was probably pretty fair that we both made pars. We want to have a true champion.”
Heavy rain and thundershowers did not help. Two suspensions lasting nearly two-and-a-half hours conspired against proclaiming a winner in normal time. However, tournament organizers also have to take their share of the blame. Poor weather was in the forecast, yet they stuck with a tee time of 2:55 p.m. for the final twosome of Langer and David Frost.
Langer is chasing his third senior major and second Senior Open. The German won the 2010 British Senior. He also won the U.S. Senior Open Championship that year.
Wiebe has won three times on the Champions Tour to go with two regular PGA Tour wins.